There are a number of benefits to having your offensive linemen back off the ball as far as legally possible. To be legal, the tops of your linemens helmets have to be touching the midpoint of the centers body. This comes from Rule 2 Section 30 Article 9 of your Federation High School Rule Book that most every youth football leagues use.
Many Single Wing and Double Wing teams use this alignment method to give their offensive linemen immediate depth for their pulls. Being this deep frees the linemen from immediate contact with the defensive line and a gives the puller a clearer path to the point of attack. It lessens the need to bow deep to clear the center and allows for a flatter and quicker path to the point of attack on football plays the linemen are pulling on.
The depth also allows for easy covering of inside gaps. With the tight splits and the depth, it takes a defensive player with Olympic sprinters speed to shoot a gap on your offense. Even slow offensive linemen can take flat paths to cover those inside gaps.
It also allows your offensive linemen to form a tight wedge easier as they get a nice fit before making contact with defenders.
A few quick tips to make this concept work:
Make sure your offensive linemen are foot to foot.
Linemen’s feet must me lined up at the top of the toes of the linemen to their inside.
Stances are even, there is no foot offset as a “power foot”.
Guards have to have a starter point where they know their head will be at the midpoint of the center.
Next line up the tackles and then the ends.
If your offensive linemen are not held accountable to the above standards, your team will be susceptible to illegal formation penalties of not having enough players on the line.
My personal team has been penalized for this twice in the last 6 seasons. We line our offensive linemen off the heels of the center. The guards line the tips of their feet at the back of the centers heels and the rest of our linemen line up on the front of the toes of the guards as stated above. If your linemen do not line up at the front tips of the toes of the player to their inside, the slight variations in foot size on the one unbalanced side can definitely add up to a situation where your right end is lined up illegally. The last thing you want to do is have football plays going for touchdowns and getting them called back for a silly penalty.
Using this method is worth the effort and youth football players love working off landmarks. The back heels of the center are a good place to start. Coaching Youth Football well means taking every small legal advantage you can and keeping your offensive linemen off the ball is one of those advantages.
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